Greater Washington Anti-DUI Group Urges Safety On Super Bowl Sunday
Nearly Half of All U.S. Traffic Deaths On Game Day Involve Drunk Drivers
Falls Church, VA, Jan. 29 – While the continuing COVID-19 pandemic will put a dent on Super Bowl gatherings this year, as many as one-in-four U.S. adults say that they will still be attending parties for the big game leading a local anti-drunk driving organization to urge the public to have a game plan to prevent drunk driving during this year’s “Super Bowl Sunday.”
During Super Bowl Sunday 2017, nearly half (48%) of all U.S. traffic fatalities involved alcohol-impaired drivers according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (see NHTSA chart below).
“With nearly half of all U.S. traffic deaths being caused by drunk drivers during Super Bowl Sunday, it’s important to have a game-plan so as to not drop the ball during this high-risk, high-alcohol consumption period,” said Kurt Erickson, President of the nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP), a 39-year-old public-private partnership combating drunk driving.
A national Seton Hall Sports Poll (blogs.shu.edu/sportspoll/) conducted this month of more than 1,500 U.S. adults found that 25-percent of Americans this year will be “gathering with other people that live outside of their home” to watch Super Bowl LV scheduled for February 7, 2021.
“We urge all Greater Washington area residents to both stay at home and respect public health restrictions this Super Bowl Sunday. However, if persons do venture out and alcohol is involved, we urge them to plan ahead as to how they’ll safely get home when the game is over” including designating a sober driver, using alternative transport like public transportation, rideshare services and taxicabs or spending the night at your destination.
A July 2020 survey conducted of 600 21-35 year old male drivers in Virginia by Lake Research Partners for Virginia’s Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign (actlikeit.org) found that while a strong majority (95%) of young men believe it important to make a plan to get home safely before they go out for the night, less than two-thirds (61%) frequently do.
The Falls Church-based organization emphasizes that even those not drinking during the game can help deter drunk driving by both reporting suspected drunk drivers as well as by wearing their seatbelts.
“Even if you have every confidence in your own ability to not drive impaired, that confidence doesn’t extend to the next driver,” said Erickson. “Motorists in Greater Washington who suspect that they are sharing a roadway with an impaired driver should report such by safely dialing 911 in the District of Columbia or Maryland and #77 in Virginia.”
“And while you often hear that wearing a seatbelt may be your best defense against a drunk driver, the true bottom-line is that the routine wearing of seatbelts is the single most effective measure to reduce crash-related deaths and injuries.”
While DUI penalties differ in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia for first-time offenders, such range from fines up to $2,500, jail terms up to one year and driver’s license suspension periods also up to one year.
Founded in 1982, the nonprofit [501(c)(3)] Washington Regional Alcohol Program is a coalition of diverse interests using effective education, innovative programs, and targeted advocacy to end alcohol-impaired driving and underage drinking in the Washington, D.C. metro area. Through public education, innovative health education programs and advocacy, WRAP is credited with keeping the metro-Washington area’s alcohol-related traffic deaths historically lower than the national average. WRAP, however, may best be known to area residents via the organization’s popular free safe ride service to prevent drunk driving, SoberRide®.
For more information, visit WRAP’s web site at www.wrap.org.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System Data Fatalities in Motor Vehicle Traffic Crashes for February 5, 2017- February 6, 2017 and the Highest BAC in the Crash